August 15, 2014

While We’re Waiting… Cavs in freefall, Bill Veek and the problem of tanking

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

You had me at discombobulated. “I think we’re watching a team in free fall. The Cavs look discombobulated on the offensive end and uninterested on defense. The Sixers are a team that likes to run their guards through screens, and it’s not like fighting through screens from Spencer Hawes and Elton Brand is easy, but the Cavalier guards just didn’t make the necessary effort to reach the Sixers’ shooters. This is part of the reason Jodie Meeks (Jodie Meeks!) posted 31 points. The other reason is that Jodie Meeks turned into a human torch at some point in the second quarter.” [McGowan/Cavs the Blog]

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“Image if, on March 27, 2010, I had told you that on March 27, 2012, the following would be included in an official press release by the Cleveland Indians, what would have been your reaction? “Today the Indians optioned INF LONNIE CHISENHALL and INF MATT LaPORTA to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.”

Not a pleasant one, I would surmise. After all, two years ago at this time, the expectation was that these two guys were eventually going to be the anchors of the Tribe infield, once Chisenhall reached the bigs and LaPorta was no longer blocked by Russell Branyan at first.” [Castovince/MLB.com]

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If you have never heard or read about Bill Veek, here’s your chance- “Cleveland sports history has been littered with terrible ownership.There was Ted Stepien, who as Cavs owner was so incompetent, the NBA actually stepped in to approve trades, and established rules to keep teams from trading successive No. 1 draft picks. There was George Steinbrenner, who before he brought his special brand of mayhem to the Bronx owned the Cleveland Pipers, an American Basketball League team beset by problems, which ended up folding before it could join the NBA. And there was Art Modell, may he rest in peace as soon as possible.

But occasionally, the sports gods smile on Cleveland. They did in 1946, when the Indians were bought by a syndicate headed by Bill Veeck for a purported $1.6 million. Veeck, like Modell, was from a day when someone could organize a group of investors and buy a team with a relatively small outlay of cash. Veeck’s investors included Hank Greenberg and Bob Hope, who was born in England but grew up in Cleveland.” [Guerrieri/Did the Tribe Win Last Night]

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The video is worth it. Everytime. “We had a good laugh this past weekend while briefly celebrating the eleven year anniversary of one of the most infamous plays in baseball history. Of course, I’m referring to the events of March 24, 2001, and more specifically, the seventh inning of a Spring Training game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Francisco Giants, when Randy Johnson threw a fastball that struck and killed a dove.

According to witnesses and anyone who has taken the time to view the YouTube clip, a bird swooped between the pitcher’s mound and home plate just as Johnson, one of the hardest throwing pitchers to ever play the game, was releasing the ball. His fastball hit the bird at such a velocity as to make it appear as though it had vapourized into thin air, leaving only feathers as evidence of its previous existence. For the record, the official call from the home plate umpire was ‘no pitch.’ ” [Parkes/The Score]

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Make no mistake. The Louisville-Kentucky game is going to capsize the Final Four before it ever gets started. The two schools hate each other like poison, going back to the days when that virulent old racist Adolph Rupp wouldn’t schedule Louisville because he was afraid Wes Unseld would kick his ass. That alone would be enough. Add to it, however, the two-man carnival of egos that is Rick Pitino against John Calipari, the latter a Mordred-like presence in the career of the former, tracking Pitino’s career path almost perfectly, from a beginning in Massachusetts to an unsuccessful stint in the NBA to wild success upon returning to the college ranks. If there hasn’t been drama on the court, there is now high melodrama off of it. The raw, extravagant diva-tude on display is going to be enough to make the French Quarter look like a papal high mass. Because things are only what they are sold to be these days, this is already the Louisville-Kentucky Final Four. Ohio State and Kansas — while massive sports-entertainment conglomerates in their own right — are the supporting players. There is something to be said for supporting players. Sometimes, they’re doing the only real work worth watching. [Charles P. Pierce/Grantland]

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On tanking- “This tactic is so commonplace that fans believe that teams are supposed to “get bad to get good.” But not only is this a perversion of the sport, it also means that a lot of teams actually “get bad … and stay bad.” Right now superstar-grade players are going into a lottery populated by the worst teams, in a sport where one great player has more impact than in any other team sport and is locked into below-market salaries throughout their careers (because of rookie scale contracts followed by maximum-salary limits).

Meanwhile, teams that win consistently very seldom get players like that, by trade or any other means. Essentially, the best-run teams are penalized while the worst-run teams are rewarded. Is it any wonder that many front offices aren’t sweating losses?” [Abbott/TrueHoop]

  • MrCleaveland

    In other news, there are reports that LeBron James has injured his ring finger.

    Which prompts Cleveland fans to ask, WHAT ring?

    Hahahahahahaha!

  • BisonDeleSightings

    If Bill Veeck had his way, we could’ve seen CC Sabathia pitch in shorts.

  • Steve

    We can keep banging the table about how awful tanking is, but I’ve yet to see anyone come up with a plausible system that punishes teams for tanking while still giving the legitimately worst teams in the league better chances at improving.

  • mgbode

    exactly.  especially in basketball where 1 player can make a huge difference.

    one of the “options” he has mentioned in the past is giving a tiered weighted system to all teams to put them in the lottery.  could you imagine the outrage if the Heat “won” the lottery to get Anthony Davis on their team?  remember, th Bulls had virtually no shot at Derrick Rose when they won it.

    he also ignores a bunch of important factors:

    1. Hope – if your team is going to win 15 games this season, then shouldn’t you be able to hope they can get one of these young potential stars and make college basketball more fun to watch?   imagine if we couldn’t at least dream of pairing up Irving with MKG, Beal, or another college wing.

    2. Bad FOs – he blames the existance of bad FOs on the presense of tanking.  and desribes how some FOs are better than others.  one “good” FO is obviously OKC.   however, he fails to mention that if Portland picked Durant, then OKC gets Oden’s injury concerns, Green fails even more miserably, and Presti isn’t nearly the “genius” that he is today.   that’s just one example, but many draft decisions are domino effects and luck does play a part (skill obviously does too – he is the guy who took Westbrook and Harden higher than others had them tabbed).

    so much more wrong with that article too.  but, it’s his “special project” now.

  • mgbode

    good thing he only injured his ring finger because he doesn’t have a need for that digit anyways.

  • MrCleaveland

     LeBron James needs a ring finger like my gramdma needs a jock.

    /rimshot

  • Jay

    I believe I read somewhere, or maybe saw it in a documentary, George Steinbrenner was once poised to buy the Indians at some point before he bought the Yankees. Does anyone know the validity of that, or am I mistaken?

  • Steve

    #2 amazes me. He treats all teams who have made the lottery as equals. He points out the difference between OKC and Sacramento. But OKC, like you said, got Durant, along with a choice between Westbrook and Love, and another top 3 pick in Harden. Sacramento had zero top three picks, but did about as well as they reasonably could have when they picked 4 and 5 in getting Evans and Cousins. OKC isn’t a better front office just because they were in a position to draft two franchise players while Sacramento was in position to only get two solid starters.

  • Steve

     Yup, the local boy wanted to buy his favorite team growing up. And he totally would have had a $200 million payroll in this town.